Tuesday 25 July 2017

Holloway's 'shore' things set sights on United scalp

Mark Ogden

Blackpool's final preparations for tomorrow's clash with Manchester United could be moved to the beach if the club's frozen training pitch failed to thaw overnight.

Blackpool are hopeful that United's first visit to Bloomfield Road since October 1974 will go ahead tomorrow afternoon, despite the sub-zero temperatures that have forced the club to hire a heated pitch cover to protect the surface.

But with the club's training ground off limits so far this week because of the cold weather, manager Ian Holloway insists he has no reservations over using the town's beaches for training today after rejecting the chance to take his squad to Spain ahead of the United fixture.

"We will be on the training ground tomorrow whatever the weather, but if it's too bad and still frozen, then we will train on the beach if the tide is out," Holloway said. "It is a luxury that we have in Blackpool. It's flat and you can train on it. We tried to train down there last year during the bad weather, but it was frozen.

"Stanley Matthews was down there every morning when he played for the club and it didn't do him any harm, did it? If the beach was good enough for that calibre of player, then it's certainly all right for my lot."

Holloway, who confirmed defender Chris Basham faced a lengthy lay-off with a broken leg, claimed that the offer of a training break in Spain would not have benefited his players this week.

Choice

"I could have taken the lads to Marbella for a few days, but I didn't think it was right," he said. "The players didn't have a choice in the matter because it was my choice.

"The club were happy to pay for it, but I don't care how the players feel about staying here. If we'd gone over there, we would have trained in hot weather and then come back into the cold, which would have been a bit of a shock.

"If other teams are used to it, then great. But we're not and I think it would have totally blown everything that we are doing here."

Although Blackpool has escaped the snow that has covered much of England this week, temperatures were expected to drop to minus five in the town overnight.

Holloway insisted all was being done to prevent the United game being postponed. "We haven't got undersoil heating at Bloomfield Road, so the club have brought in something that looks like it should be on a fairground. I waited behind it for 10 minutes thinking I could get myself a hot dog!

"It's some kind of generator that blows heat on to the pitch, but I really hope that the game is on.

"It will be very embarrassing for us if it isn't, but we are trying our hardest. I expect the chairman is probably saying: 'How much?' but I can't ask for anything more." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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